Whether it’s because of the workload or the threat of carrying someone’s weight throughout the project, working in groups almost always seems like a daunting task.
Typically, group projects are designed to teach us the valuable lessons of teamwork, responsibility and communication. But more common than not, group work does the polar opposite of what it’s designed to do.
When students hear their professor say “We’re going to have a group project this semester,” a low grumble spreads throughout the room as classmates anxiously wait to hear which group they’re being sentenced to. Then the anxiety of not knowing who your partners are sets in, and the worst of it all – will I be responsible for the bulk of the workload?
From my experience as a student of almost 17 years, working as a team for a group project hardly ever rang true. Usually, one or two people took complete control of the material and sacrificed their work for the others in the group who always made excuses.
For example, when I was in middle school, I was put in a group with classmates I hardly knew, and a couple free-riders took credit for all the work the rest of the group did. They made communication a living hell.
A 2013 study by the Higher Education Academy in England, UK states that 49 percent of students opposed group work.
Group projects always seem like a ‘final destination’ for grades because of the many complications caused by the nature of group work. Everything from the obvious ‘free rider’ dilemma, the lapse in crucial communication, impossible schedule coordination and the inevitable fate of deadlines, group projects achieve little of what they’re promised to do for students.
I believe group projects create more stress in students’ lives because of how time-consuming they can be. Group projects promote networking, but it dwindles in its ability to further students’ progress in their class by creating giant obstacles to achieve the grade each individual rightfully deserves.
Teachers must begin to take into consideration how limited students’ time is outside of class. Students’ unrelenting tendency to slack off make it nearly impossible to achieve the goal each individual sets for themselves in their respective classes.
Group projects also present the issue of conflicting egos and stubbornness to agree on an idea. A perfect example of this, which many students can resonate with, is when one of the group members decides to have everything done their way and is intolerant of others’ ideas and suggestions.
Conflict easily arises in group projects when the group cannot coordinate ideas and direction for the project, resulting in clashing personalities and disagreements that consume our energy and time.